How to set up Google Authorship and why I should care

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  • December 13, 2012
Laura Crimmons

Laura Crimmons

Communications Director

Google Authorship has been around for a fair while now and with growing speculation about whether AuthorRank will be incorporated in Google’s algorithm next, you need to make sure you have it set up properly for your website.

Aside from being speculated to inform the next algorithm update, Authorship can provide other benefits such as increased CTR (as it helps you to dominate the SERPs page) and can help people to identify with you or your brand as they keep seeing your face alongside the content.

Mike Arnseen wrote a great SEOmoz blog post on AuthorRank in September this year which is well worth a read to understand what impact it might have and how to get ahead of the game.

How to set up Authorship

  1. Create a Google+ profile.
  2. Think carefully about your photo – a headshot will work best and it is a good idea to keep the same photo across all channels (Twitter, LinkedIn) so that people recognise the photo when it appears alongside your posts in SERPs which can help to increase CTR.
  3. Ensure you have a byline on each page of content with the same name as your Google+ page, e.g. ‘By Laura Crimmons’.
  4. If you have an email address for the domain with the content (e.g. [email protected])– go to Google’s authorship page and submit your email address, this will add the email address to the Work section of your G+ profile and add the domain to your Contributor section.
  5. If you don’t have an email address for the domain– you will need to add this bit of code to your webpage.<a href="[profile_url]?rel=author">Google</a>And replace the profile_url with your Google+ URL e.g. mine would be <a href="">Google</a>
    You will then need to add a link to the website in the Contributor section of your G+ profile.
  6. After you’ve connected your profile and website, you can test whether it is set up properly using Google’s structure data testing tool by entering one of your post’s URLs and checking your G+ profile comes up alongside it, e.g. for my last post I can see that it is working properly here:

Google's structured data testing tool

What if my brand doesn’t have an ‘author’?

Personally, I think it’s always best to have a face associated with the content, however if your brand really doesn’t have any personal profiles that it can associate with the content there is the rel=publisher tag which attempts to overcome this.

The rel=publisher tag will link your brand’s website with its Google+ business page and therefore again in theory pull through to the SERPs. The reason I say in theory is because over the past few weeks the rel=publisher tag seems to be showing up less and less in SERPs it seems.

How to implement it:

The steps are very similar to the Authorship steps with just a slight change to the code.

1. Add this code to your homepage

<a href="[yourpageID]"  rel="publisher">Find us on Google+</a>

Obviously replace [yourpageID] with your G+ page which you can find in the URL for the page, e.g. for Branded3:

Your page ID

2. Add your website URL to your Google+ page, so on your G+ page click ‘Edit Profile’ then ‘Website’ and then enter the URL exactly as it appears on the page you added the code to.

3. Again, test whether it is working using Google’s structured data testing tool so here’s an example for Branded3:

Example for B3

How to know if it’s working

Google has a number of tools which help you to assess whether your Authorship is working and driving traffic to your site, however these do seem underutilised at times.

First of all, in Webmaster Tools under ‘Labs’ there is ‘Author Stats’ where you can see all of the pages with authorship set up that have been appearing in SERPs, impressions, clicks, CTR and Average position as can be seen here with an example of one of my colleague’s blogs:

Author stats

The only set back with this is that it doesn’t seem to work with the rel=publisher tag it only seems to work with Google+ profiles as opposed to pages.

The next tool that Google seems to be testing at the moment is Authorship Analytics within Google+ which has been seen by various influential figures within the industry such as Danny Sullivan of Search Engine Land, which they explained in a post here  which includes this screenshot showing where Authorship Analytics is being shown:

Danny Sullivan GooglePlus

This then shows a similar kind of breakdown as in Webmaster tools of impressions, clicks and CTR. It is currently in testing by Google so only available to a small group of authors but will hopefully be rolled out soon.

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